I got a call from a friend of mine whose wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a shock to him; he thought that his wife was very healthy. He wanted to do whatever it took to get her the necessary help. When our loved ones are involved, we will go any length to make things happen. How many of you can agree to that? We all have lost loved ones to cancer; it’s painful for those who are ill and those of us who are caregivers.
I know when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was shocked and the first thought that came to my mind was my dad needs my help. I talked to his doctors, those doing the tests; I felt that I had to control the situation. My dad wasn’t helpless at all. He was a Colonel in the army, fought in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. He was a highly decorated war hero. He didn’t need me to be meddling in his business. I wanted to help; I wanted to be involved with his care. He took care of my mother who had cancer as well. She needed a great deal of care and he was there for her every step of the way!
I asked my dad, what I could do to help him. He said he didn’t know, and that made matters worse for me. Not knowing what was going on. I fought to get answers from all of his doctors. I was told several scenarios for his out come. I never let him know all I was doing behind the scenes. I didn’t want to worry him whatsoever. Then it hit me, was I intruding and causing him undo stress by my actions?
I know many times he had to calm me down, and believe me it was adding stress to his situation. I listened to his concerns. I listened as to how he was going to fight this lung cancer. I listened to his fears, and how he would do whatever it took to save his life. He was in the most serious fight of his life. He had his game face on when speaking with his docs. Behind the game face, was a man who taught his kids to go the distance in whatever you do. My dad was doing just that.
I had to figure out a new game plan for me. How could I support my dad? How could I be an encouragement to my dad and mother? I didn’t want to get in the way. I wanted to make their lives easier; I could take my dad to his appointments, no problem there. I could make sure he understood what the docs were saying and what his treatment would consist of. I could let him know the effects of his meds and how to deal with them. I could make sure that he was eating good healthy foods and that his diet would be helping him with the side effects of chemo and radiation treatments.
So, that’s the game plan that I worked out for my dad with his approval of course. My mom was in the know, but her cancer had kept her very ill. She couldn’t really do very much, but give thumbs up for all we did for dad.
His surgery went well; he had the best care from the docs and the hospital staff. I made sure that everything was set up at home, home health care, medical supplies (oxygen tanks), home therapy, and meals on wheels for the one meal we didn’t have to worry about. The other meals were very nutritious and I had a friend help make those meals.
My dad was very thankful that I could help and take the pressure off of my mom. When something like this happens, you need the whole family involved, the way it used to be. Now its dump our loved one off at the hospital, let them deal with it. Anyone that is critically ill wants to know that the entire family will roll up their sleeves and help. This cannot be just one family member. Friends would want to be involved as well. They can offer some relief when needed, but have to be asked well in advance. You can also talk with your pastor, and see if the church has people to help. Many are just waiting to be asked and the pastor can give you some contact names.
Make sure that the person, who is ill, is involved in the entire process. You can’t have them guessing from day to day what is happening with doctors’ visits. This will add stress to them. Select one person from the family or close friend who will coordinate meals, rides to appointments, and visits from family and friends. I am available to help you, just call.
If you need coaching in helping friends or family coping with cancer you can contact Dr. Mike by phone or his website. Here are some questions that might help you decide if you need additional coaching. Do you need help in setting up a plan for taking care of a loved one with cancer? Do you need to find a support group and want help? Do you want help in finding someone to be the spokesman for your loved one? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should call for an appointment.
How does Life Coaching work? You’ll meet once a week, by phone, for a one-on-one conference, usually 45 minutes a session. In each phone conference you’ll plan and review, together, each of your “Focus Goals” and action areas. In each session, you’ll also receive support and guidance in creating the right attitudes and motivation in the area’s that you want to work on most. In addition to the weekly phone conferences, you’ll also communicate by e-mail, so you’ll have help and support throughout the week.